Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Border Crossing
GENRE: Adult Literary

Two years of opening hospital-room doors hadn’t eased the dread of seeing her tiny son lying vulnerable as a soft-bellied fish on the starched white sheets of the bed, wires and tubes surrounding him like the tentacles of a giant squid. Knowing that those mechanical tentacles monitored his fragile heart and fed him the medicine that kept him alive didn’t stifle the anxiety: How will Koji be today? Is it a good day or a bad day? Yuki counted silently to three and pushed the door open.

Koji’s crooked, five-year-old grin beamed out from his moon face, and she could tell right away it was a good day. Even better: the mechanical tentacles were stored neatly away. Her little fish was free. Yuki scooped him up into her arms, pressing his small, bony chest to her. She nuzzled into his neck, searching for his smell underneath the hospital antiseptic.

“You’re squishing me, Mama,” Koji said, squirming from her embrace.

“Sorry, sweetheart. I’m just so happy to see you.”


“I’m always happy to see you, silly.”

“Oh,” said Koji and he looked nervously at Asana, the nurse, who was fussing around the room, rolling up a piece of plastic tubing and stowing it in the cabinet.

Yuki stood up and bowed in greeting, silently chastising herself for not acknowledging the woman sooner.

Asana handed Yuki Koji’s chart and said, “From a heart standpoint, it was a good day.”

Yuki nodded vigorously, her excitement building as she looked at his numbers.


  1. Oh gosh, I'm hooked but my heart is in my throat. As a mom, thinking of any child in this situation is enough to induce emotional anaphylaxis. I would read on, all the while hoping Koji was ok.

  2. I'm hooked as well. Like AG, it's the mom in me that wants to keep reading. I connected with Yuki right away and thought this was emotional and heartbreaking without being overly sensational.

    I did stumble a little over the first sentence, though. The images are great, but there are so many of them - and, as a result, so many prepositional phrases - that the sentence didn't flow as smoothly as it could. But a little tinkering could easily fix that, of course. Not a big deal.

    Good luck with this. I hope the Secret Agent is a mother, too:)

  3. I'm hooked too. Great start. My one comment is that there's a whole lot of fish/sea life references. I'm assuming there's a reason for this. Maybe mention it. As it is, I find it a bit distracting because I want to know why.

    Good luck!

  4. I like this. I really feel for the mother and her son. The first sentence is a little long, making it hard to follow. If you can trim it to just one of the two sea animal metaphors, I think it'll be stronger. The rest of the passage is great. Good luck!

  5. Being a mom, this immediately went straight to my heart. I agree with the others, the first sentence was a little long for me. Also, having three names all at once, Yuki, Koji, and Asana, threw me because I don't know any of them yet. I'd stick with two names and just refer to the nurse as the nurse for now. :) Good luck!

  6. I couldn't even wait to get through the first graf before posting my absolute LOVE for this story. I want to read on!!!! Now I'm going to go finish the rest of these 250 words.

  7. Fabulous imagery and great way to start the story. The hospital setting gets us right into what I'm guessing is the main drama of the piece. The first sentence is overlong, but I do love the similes - maybe breaking it up into two sentences would help it flow as well as the rest of the intro.

  8. This is beautiful writing.

    To be totally honest I wouldn’t be the right agent, I have a hard time reading books with sick children or where children are harmed. I feel sick to my stomach when I do.

    I'm so sorry.

  9. I loved it. I'd keep reading. Good luck.